Part 3. Give me a mountain and I’ll jump on it

Somewhere in Pennsylvania I decided hiking and jumping on rocky ledges wasn’t quite enough, so as PA was rocky as hell I decided that some bouldering wouldn’t go a miss.

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So that was fun, but it was then back to the job in hand. I had some mountains to hike and then jump on.

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That’s better. By this point my friends and family back home had gotten used to my photos, and in true British fashion took to taking the piss out of me as a form of affection (it was affection, right guys?) and were actually starting to tag me in their photos on Facebook, of them jumping on little hills and walls back in England. Piss taking bastards hahaha!

So I hit back with some arty’er pretentiously silhouetted shots to take the piss out of myself.

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PA7In terms of jumping on mountains there is a little gap here for the next couple of states. I can only presume this is because NJ and NY were hot and humid as hell and I wasn’t much up for jumping on shit. We were hitting 100 degrees with 90/100% humidity most days which wasn’t much fun at all apart from the awesome scenery. But to add to this I was being bitten to shit by the spawn of Satan that is MOSQUITOES!!! I looked like I had chicken pox. At one point I counted a few hundred bites just on my arms…It was bad times.

We did make an awesome side trip into New York City though courtesy of another amazing trail angel and it would have been wrong of me not to get a jump shot, so here it is.

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We had a lot of fun staying with trail angels and family members of the hiker family, taking in some local attractions and doing a bit of slack packing and generally having some lazy zero days off trail. When back on trail through CT/MT and VT we just put in the miles to make up time lost, I think at one point we almost did 200 miles in one week so not much time for dicking around, but there were a few shots to be had.

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Somewhere in Massachusetts Pappa Bull and I celebrated our birthdays in style. His family had sent him a few bits to help.

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Then there was New Hampshire

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We had made it to Hanover crossed that bridge, we were in the penultimate State. Since the beginning I had been looking forward to this state. I was nervous, excited, emotional and flabbergasted that I had actually made it this far. But we were and she didn’t disappoint one bit.

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I started off pretty soft with the jump shots here, and then we hit Mt Moosilauke in a storm. The winds were so strong here that I got blown off my feet, lost my balance and was slammed to the ground. Now looking back, instead of worrying if I had hurt myself as it was quite a fall, we all just cracked up into hysterics rolling around on top of the mountain in this storm laughing away. We could have quite possibly been suffering from the early signs of hypothermia.

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There we are celebrating the first major summit in New Hampshire.

Now the Whites had been spoken about for the majority of the trail, we were all incredibly excited with a touch of nerves and we hit them with superb weather. I felt so lucky that we could soak in these magnificent mountains and their views and we hardily had a spot of rain the whole way through. Needless to say I managed to catch some of my most treasured photographs through this spectacular section.

This shot right here nearly blew me off the mountain. The weather was perfect with the odd incredibly strong gusts almost knocking you off your feet. As I jumped the wind slammed into my chest and almost turned me into a kite.

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The Lafayette and Franconia section of trail was definitely one of my favourite sections of the whole trip, it was glorious weather the whole way which obviously helped with stunning views. I believe I took almost 200 photos through this section it was so spectacular. Here are a few of my best shots.

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And of course another rock star jump shot to boot

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I still remember very clearly first seeing Mt Washington, I was almost speechless such a fantastic moment.

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Hiking Mt Washington was the only section in the Whites that we had bad weather but I still managed some awesome and memorable shots to take home. People have commented that a few look like they are straight out of a set from Star Wars.

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NH19NH18No rain. No pain. No Maine was the saying which rang through minds of countless thruhikers brains, constantly all the way from Springer in Georgia. And I was definitely not the exception. This saying would always zip through my mind every time I even slightly entertained the thought of complaining about something like the weather or a minor injury.

But the moment we hit that sign crossing the border between New Hampshire and Maine it vanished. Just like that something that had been with you for four to five months gone. We were now in Maine. The final State in our epic journey.

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Maine was a huge achievement, 100 miles short of 2000 miles in total. This alone was hard for me to believe, how had I done it, how was I still moving forward. The concept of actually being in Maine was insane but true. It was also in my mind the beginning of the end. I became very thoughtful from this point which would explain the lack of jumping on the tops of mountains. I was in a mix of emotions, as I was about to complete the biggest challenge of my life so far, but also the journey would shortly be over and that made me sad and nervous. And then in a complete twist of emotion I was incredibly excited to get home to England and see my Wife, family and friends.

Mountain top views became a peaceful moment to reflect on what had happened the past 5 months and also to look to the future and what was ahead for my life.

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Maine for me was the most beautiful State, the most peaceful and in certain ways the most rewarding. I remember being in thick forest on the edge of a mountain. We had split up for the day hiking at our own paces, so I was alone, totally alone give or take a few miles behind and in front of me. It was in the middle of the 100 mile wilderness so no major roads could be heard, no motor engine whatsoever was breaking the silence and there were no planes above. It struck me all of a sudden that at that moment in that particular spot of forest on the edge of a mountain, I was completely alone apart from the trees, the wind, the insects and birds. It was silent in regards to what we hear on a day-to-day basis in our home lives. Absolutely void of modern sound, but filled with the sound of nature and the wilds, so much so that the silence was almost defining. It was a magical moment and one that sticks in my mind quite clearly to this day.

And then it was over…….

We had hike 2,186 miles to Katahdin.

I had answered a calling which had resonated through me for the past 5 or more years.

We had thruhiked the Appalachian Trail.

We were thruhikers.

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